Three things I’m loving this week

Sarah Raven Flowers

Have you been enjoying the heatwave? This week has been all about ice lollies, eating outside and long balmy evenings. Sure, it’s got a bit too hot at times, but I love the way it makes life feel so different – it’s like being transported to the tropics in the comfort of your own garden.

The days take on a completely different hue. There’s something so joyful and timeless about watching your children’s faces as they run through the sprinkler; or the chilled-out feeling of watching the sun go down on the longest day of the year.

So, what have I been loving during this most tropical of weeks?

Working from home

Summer is definitely one of the times that working from home comes into its own. My house is cool and I can have the windows open. My commute is whizzing back from the school-run on my bike, the breeze cooling my face. When I take my coffee break, I get to potter round my garden picking flowers. This week I’ve been feeling incredibly lucky that I have the opportunity to do this. Making freelance writing and blogging my job is a dream that’s been a long time coming.

Cats, flowers and window

Being a mermaid 

During a heatwave I love having a really cool bath – it’s so soothing and calming after a long hot day. This week I’ve been trying the lovely bath soak from Living Sea Therapy*. It’s made with Cornish seaweed and minerals and smells amazing thanks to twelve essential oils –  including mandarin, ginger and eucalyptus. It’s been perfect this week!

Living Sea Therapy

Living Sea Therapy

The cold shoulder top 

This is a new style for me, and every time I wear it I have that Adele song stuck in my head. Sales are a great way to try a
new trend and I picked up this lovely top  in Oliver Bonas – reduced from £45 to £15. I really love it – it’s laid-back but feels more special than a tee.

The cold shoulder top

This week I’ve also been…

Watching…. Girl Boss on Netflix. Loved it!

Reading… Harry Potter (the Half Blood Prince), perfect escapism for crazy times.

Drinking… Adnam’s Ghost Ship and Camden Hells Lager – both perfect for hot weather!

What have you been loving this week? Do you wilt in the heat, or lap it up?

* Living Sea Therapy kindly sent me this product to try 

Shake your pom poms!

Make your own pompom accessories

I have an enduring love for pom poms. I’m so drawn to the little fluffy balls of colour, you might as well call me a pom pom magpie. So I’m excited that they’re having moment this summer. You’ll find them on bags, tunics, scarves, earrings and anything else you can think of. 

Have a go at making your own pom pom accessories. Like most summer trends, this one’s probably not going to endure beyond the end of August. Why spend lots of money, when you can decorate the things you already have?

And was there ever an easier craft to make? Invest in a pom pom maker (trust me, this is one purchase you’ll never regret) and you’ll be churning them out in no time. It’s the perfect craft for hot summer days when anything more fiddly is too difficult to contemplate.

All you need to do is make a few pom poms and leave their long strings (the ones you tie them together with) intact. Then, you can then tie them to every possession you own.

Have a go at making your own pom pom accessories.

I’ve decorated my French market basket

Have a go at making your own pom pom accessories.

…and my favourite summer sandals. There’s no sewing involved, just knot them on. You can cut them off when you get fed up of them, and change the colours according to your outfit! 

Have a go at making your own pom pom accessories.

Don’t fancy getting crafty? Here’s my pick of the best summer buys. Please forgive me the momentary lapse in taste – I think we all need a pet pom pom parrot for summer.

Summer pom pom accessories

Sandals, £25.99, New Look /  Parrot keyring, £4.99, New Look / Earrings, £7.50, ASOS / Basket, £21.99, ASOS

make your own pom pom accessories

Are you ready to shake your pom poms?

 

 

Make a blazer your new best friend

Summer blazer

I’ve always overlooked blazers. It’s easy to do. They’re a bit unassuming aren’t they? Always in the shadows, they were never going to win the popularity contest to be my best friend.

That’s a bit mean though, isn’t it? I’ve decided it’s time we made friends. My fear has always been that blazers are a bit dull. But this perceived weakness is actually the blazer’s greatest strength. Its simple, utilitarian style is pretty cool.

Summer blazer

A simple navy blazer goes with everything – pleated skirts, floaty dresses, ripped jeans… But my favourite way to style it is with wide-leg linen trousers and a Breton – classic summer attire for those days when you want to feel a little more pulled together.

Summer blazer

Summer blazer

Keep things low-key by choosing a slightly stretchy, jersey fabric for a more unstructured look.

My jacket is from H&M. It’s now sold out online, but it’s worth trying your luck in store. If you’d prefer to shop online, let me point you in the direction of this gorgeous jersey jacket by Boden:

Image: Boden

Or, if you’d prefer something more loose and unstructured, this jacket from New Look is perfection:

Image: New Look

My t-shirt is by H&M, and my trousers are last summer’s linen wide-legs from Marks and Spencer – who do fantastic linen at brilliant prices. This pair from their current collection are very similar.

Do you have a blazer lurking at the back of your wardrobe? Get it out and make it your new best friend! 

Summer blazer

Home Notes for June

June mantelpiece

Every summer I fall in love with my home all over again. 

As the days get warmer it takes on a new lease of life. A fresh personality. Every time I throw open a door or window a bit of magic happens. It’s like the house is stretching out its limbs and letting out a big breath it’s been holding for months.

David Austin rose, the Albrighton Rambler

I’m spending more and more time outdoors and the garden feels like an extension of the house. We worked hard last year – planting roses and putting up a new shed. This year the hard work is paying dividends. The rambling roses are well and truly rambling and make me smile each time I pass. As do my cats, who are certainly adding a whole new element to the garden this year.

Cat on a fence post

I’ve planted a section of summer plants, including cosmos, sweet peas, nigella and dahlias – which are starting to bloom alongside my established plants.

My garden in June

I can’t wait to see how everything changes and develops over the summer.

My garden in June

Indoors, we’re enjoying our newly painted hall and landing – and we’re very slowly hanging our pictures back up. It’s taking ages because we’re having new things framed, old things re-framed and generally re-jigging things. Which takes forever, but is very satisfying.

Re-framing pictures

Remember those bits of wrapping paper I mentioned a couple of months ago? I ordered them, and they’re framed and ready to go. They work brilliantly in the frames from IKEA and totally prove that interesting pictures don’t have to cost the earth.

Framed wrapping paper

A word of warning though. The IKEA frames are very flimsy. They’re fine with a £3 piece of wrapping paper, but I wouldn’t trust them with anything really special. We’re sending those things off to be framed by a local professional – which is actually less expensive than you’d think. Especially when you consider the quality of bespoke frames. For us, we’re usually talking about £30-£50 per picture.

Lighter, brighter days are also inspiring me to re-arrange things that have sat still for far too long. Last week I cleared all the clutter from the mantel piece in our study, and replaced it with a simple, seasonal display. The result is refreshing, which is what I need in the room where I sit and write.

Peonies in a marmalade jar

What’s been on my interiors radar this month?

First up, this beautiful screen print by Jacqueline Coley. I’ve been admiring it for a while and I’d like it very much!

Image by Jacqueline Coley

I have also fallen in love with this fluffy chair from Maison du Monde. There’s a matching bench too.

Image by Mason du Monde

What are your home notes this month?

Home Etc

A very clever dress

Clever occasion wear

It’s June, which means it’s time to get ready for the Great British summer of events and occasions. Like most things in Britain, it’s complicated.

Whether you’re going to a wedding, a garden party or the races you’ll face a few challenges. Not least of which is the notorious Great British summer weather. Yes, that. The days that go from scorching hot to soaking wet, all at the drop of a hat.

And it’s not just the weather that’s changeable. Summer events can vary hugely – genteel one minute, and raucous the next. You need to be flexible.

Outfit indecision is rife. As is the fear of getting it wrong. You need to get smart and choose a clever outfit. Something that’ll feel great, and take you anywhere. Step forward the shirt dress, the most versatile of outfits. It’s smart in every sense of the word. Dress it up, dress it down – it’s up to you. 

Clever occasion wear

And I think I’ve found the perfect one. When Simply Be invited me to try out their summer occasion wear, I knew immediately that this was the dress for me. I toyed with flowers and maxis, but kept coming back to this dress. It’s a classic.

Why’s it so good?

Firstly, it’s flattering. The fluttery sleeves hide my upper arms, and the belt accentuates my waist. The longer length helps me feel taller and slimmer. Add on some comfortable heels and I’m ready.

Simply Be shoes

But more importantly, it passed the weather test. On the afternoon of these photos it encountered a Great British rainstorm and survived to tell the tale. And it still looked chic for a glass of fizz.

Clever occasion dressing

And that’s the very definition of clever dressing, don’t you think?

This post was written in collaboration with Simply Be. 

 

#OnePerfectThing in May

#OnePerfectThing in May

Our #OnePerfectThing community is one year old this month! 

That’s one whole year of spotting the little moments of perfection in our days. Life can’t always be perfect, but we can always look for something small that makes us happy. It may only be a fleeting moment, but it’s precious.

This ethos feels just as fresh one year on. In fact, right now, it feels spot on. We live in unsettling, sometimes frightening times. I find comfort in the small things. Watching my flowers grow, a blissful cuddle with my boys, a perfect flat white, a well-earned glass of fizz in the evening sun…

Thinking like this has helped me on my own personal journey, and I love that so many of you have joined in with me on Instagram. I do spend a bit too long looking on my phone sometimes, but who can blame me when I can share all your amazing moments too?

Here are my favourites from the last month! 

#OnePerfectThing in May

Top row, left to right: @jess_soothill / @lindyann38 / @lauralupinhoward

Middle row, left to right: @mimironning  / @rachaellucas / @georgia_coote

Bottom row, left to right: @featherandwild / @the.blonde.blog / @whenlovelookslikelaughter

There’s beauty and perfection to be found everywhere. If we remember that, I don’t think we’ll go far wrong.

If you’d like to join in on Instagram, then please do tag your photos with #oneperfectthing. Or, if you don’t have Instagram, why not e-mail me something or share it with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Lizzie x

And one last thing…It would totally make my day (year?) if some of you lovely people would like to nominate me in the Inspire category of the Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2017! 

Get your taste buds in a twist with NEW Super Sour Yoyos from BEAR!

Super Sour BEAR Yo You

This year we’re part of BEAR’s Happy by Nature team. So far, it’s been a blast. My boys have loved BEAR goodies ever since they were toddlers – especially the pure fruit Yoyos. So being part of the team is basically their most favourite job in the whole world, and mine too.

There was much excitement when we opened our latest delivery from The BEAR Cave – a box full of new Super Sour Yoyos. The little fruit rolls have gone psychedelic!

BEAR sent us a fun roulette wheel to play with, which we set up for some after school fun. We mixed up original pure fruit Yoyos with the new super sour versions for a bit of tongue-twisting fun.

Bear super sour fruit Yo You

We love the flavour of the normal Yoyos, but these are something else! Super zingy, in an excitingly fruity way.

After the first taste my eight-year-old announced that these are the best things BEAR have EVER made. That’s high praise indeed, BEAR. They both then proceeded to cheat so the arrow only landed on the super sour ones!

Usually when my children like something like this, it’s full of nasties. As you’d expect, this isn’t the case with BEAR’s Super Sour Yo-Yos. They are just the same as non sour Yoyos, just whole fruit and veg gently baked with no added sugar – but this time with the clever addition of a hefty squeeze of lemon. Each one contains the same natural sugars as an apple, are one of your five a day and are packed full of natural fibre. They get something yummy as a treat, and I don’t have to feel guilty.

They’re a super-cool snack to take on a day out. The flavour and packaging are really ace, particularly for slightly older children who relish trying new things.

BEAR Super sour fruit Yo You

They’re also perfect for introducing your little toddler cubs to exciting new tastes. I’ve always found young children really like sour fruits like lemons – give it go, you’ll be surprised.

And you know what else is great? They’ve still got collector’s cards in them, this year they’re all about BEAR’s Super Secret Spy Adventures!

BEAR super sour Yo You

Again, perfect for my busy little BEARS, who are already eagerly collecting their ‘bearcodes’ to send off to Agent BEAR for a free Spy Kit.

You can find out more about Agent BEAR and his Super Sour Yoyos here.

 This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with BEAR

 

My bank holiday manifesto

Bowl of roses

It’s been a week of two halves.

On the one hand, we’ve had the hottest weather of the year so far. We’ve unpacked our favourite summer clothes, lit our barbecues and enjoyed the happy-making feeling of warm sunshine.

But, in the background there’s been a lot of sadness too. On a personal level, I lost my much-loved grandma  – and on a collective level we’ve all been left reeling from the horrible events in Manchester. This week has had a slightly unreal quality and the Whitsun bank holiday (plus half-term) have crept up on me. Writing about fashion and days out feels trivial. It’s hard, and it’s easy to lose your desire to write.

But I woke this morning with a determination to grab the long weekend with both hands. My manifesto for the weekend is the antithesis of all the other manifestos around at the moment . It’s simple, happy and positive:

Sit on the grass with my children and chat about life, the universe and anything in between

Drink fizzy wine in my garden and watch the sun go down

Pack up at least one picnic, and aim to eat every meal outdoors

Light the barbecue at least once

Water my plants and pick my beautiful roses

Learn to use my new coffee machine

Hold hands, cuddle and make eye-contact with the people who matter most

That’s my manifesto. What’s yours?

Low-key denim for sunny days

Relaxed summer denim

Do you wear denim all year round? 

Denim on hot days always reminds me of being a teenager – sweltering in thick jeans because you couldn’t imagine being seen in anything else. Too hot, too tight, too stiff. These days my jeans get pushed to the back of the wardrobe in summer time. I like lighter, floatier fabrics.

But I miss my jeans and I’m always looking for an alternative. Step in the Tencel jogger by White Stuff. As soon as I saw them in my local store I knew I had to try them. They look like denim, but feel light, soft and drapey. They’re everything I want a summer jean to be. Loose and low-key, and reminiscent of camping trips and days in the park.

Relaxed summer denim

The denim jogger is a new shape for me. It’s tight on the waist, baggy on the thighs and tapered round the ankle. It’s not the easiest shape to wear, but it’s everywhere this season.

If I’m wearing these trousers my top half has to be close-fitting and minimal. A pretty, floaty top looks unbearably dowdy (on me at least). A basic stripy tee feels more at home, tucked in if you fancy.

Relaxed summer denim

Trousers, £49.95, White Stuff / Tee, £6.99, H&M / Basket, £21, Kosmopolitan

I  know these are going to be my easy-peasy, throw-it-on, trouser of choice this summer. A little bit crumpled, but a whole lot relaxed – just the ticket for school runs, park runs and ice cream runs! 

Beauty favourites for May

Now I’m in my thirties my beauty routine needs an extra helping hand. I used to wear hardly any makeup, but motherhood and age have taken their toll. Barely there now looks barely decent!

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still crave the fresh-faced look. I’ve never liked lots of foundation, and I’m not ready to start just yet. So I’ve been trying a tinted base coat instead (which basically means a tinted moisturiser). I’ve invested in this one by Liz Earle. It’s my first foray into her make-up, and I’m impressed. It’s very light and I put it on over my daily moisturiser. It creates a nice base for my blusher, concealer and BB powder to sit on and really evens out my skin tone. It makes me look subtly better – like I’ve had a great night’s sleep!

I’ve always been afraid of tinted moisturisers – wouldn’t they make my combination skin even greasier? I’ve been using this one for a couple of months now and I haven’t noticed any real difference. So I’ll be sticking with this clever base, which also has a SPF. When the weather’s hotter I might mix a little stronger sun block into it for extra protection.

I’d also really recommend Liz Earle’s concealer too. It works really well with the skin tint to cover blemishes and redness.

I’ve already mentioned my combination skin. It seems to be getting worse as I get older and my pores are getting bigger (and more blocked!). I’ve read about the benefits of Origins Clear Improvement clay mask on numerous occasions and I’ve finally invested in some. It’s not cheap – my purchase was made during a prosecco-fueled shopping spree at the airport.

Origins face mask

I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I’m beginning to see improvements. I’m also trying to be good about not poking and squeezing my pores too much as I’m sure this makes them worse. I’m using it weekly, followed by those sticky pore strips a few days later.

Now, let’s talk about hair. Mine is thick, wavy and coloured. Conventional shampoos do very little for it. I’ve been reading about the co-washing trend for a while and recently took the plunge. I’m using Lush’s Avocado Co-Wash, which looks disconcertingly like a piece of cheese, but smells like heaven.

Lush Avocado Co-Wash

It’s completely different to normal shampoo. I take a little piece and rub it into a lather in my hands, then work it through my hair. It’s a very different way to wash your hair. You don’t get that squeaky clean feeling – instead my hair feels soft and moisturised and much less frizzy and fluffy. My hair is very thick, so it can take this. I imagine if you had fine hair, it would feel unbearably greasy.

It’s hard to explain, but I prefer my hair this way. It retains more of its natural oils, but it still feels clean. My hair also smells amazing after I’ve used it! If you have very thick hair give it a go. It’s quite expensive but, the lovely girls in the Cambridge Lush gave me a small piece to try for free before I committed to buying a big piece. Their customer service is great, I’m always really impressed.

Have you tried anything new lately? I’d love to hear about your new finds! 

And one last thing…It would totally make my day (year?) if some of you lovely people would like to nominate me in the Inspire category of the Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2017!